The Madness has been whittled down to just four teams, pitting Villanova against Kansas and North Carolina against Duke on April 2. Mike Krzyzewski shared some of his feelings ahead of what will be his last Final Four appearance as Duke’s head coach before his retirement on his SiriusXM exclusive podcast, Basketball & Beyond with Coach K.
Before the playoffs began, Duke had some challenging regular-season matchups that Coach K felt set them up for the playoffs.
“I think we learned a lot from the last four games of the regular season: Carolina, and then the three games that we played in the ACC tournament,” Coach K explained. “We won two of them, beating Syracuse and Miami, and then Virginia Tech in the second half pulled away from us. And [we] really analyzed how poorly we were playing on the defensive end but also how bad our transition offense was. And it wasn’t lending itself to good shots and appropriate half-court play. And so our guys really worked hard for the four days … and we played two really good teams.”
Duke went on to beat out Texas Tech and Arkansas during the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, and Coach K attributed those wins to zone defense and an excellent shooting percentage.
“I mean, Texas Tech is as good as any team we’ve played,” he said. “Mark Adams, who’s been a guest on our show, I mean, his team is old and really good. I mean, again, in the last part of that game, we executed — on the offensive end, we shot over 70 percent. And then, defensively, we started using some zone.
“Going into Arkansas, [Eric] Musselman’s team … We had a 12-point lead, and they knocked it down to five. We then executed well, and then zone helped us. And we scored, like, five straight times or something like that and got a double-digit lead and were able to ride that to the Final Four.”
Despite the historic nature of Duke and North Carolina’s matchup this weekend, Coach K was also adamant that no one forgets the other two teams in the Final Four.
“I know a lot of people just will be talking about Duke and North Carolina, but it’s four teams,” he pointed out. “I mean, Villanova and Kansas — two of the storied programs in the history of our game, and it’s going to be an amazing week.”
Coach K also commented on season-ending injuries — like Justin Moore, who tore his Achilles during Villanova’s Elite Eight win over Houston and will miss the Final Four game — and gave thanks for his currently healthy team, which includes guard Jeremy Roach.
“He’s made big shots and big plays,” Coach K said. “The Texas Tech game, he was like a running back that got through the line and gained extra yards when he made some of these moves to the basket.”
Listen to the Final Four and the championship game on ESPNU Radio. For more information, click here.
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